DENVER (AP)—Brandon Marshall couldn’t catch a pass or a break Sunday, his career-best 77-yard touchdown grab negated by a borderline push-off flag that fueled Miami’s 26-17 win over the bedeviled Denver Broncos.
About the only thing the Broncos superstar caught Sunday was flack from Joey Porter, the Miami motormouth who helped hold him to just two catches while the Dolphins improved to 4-4.
“He’s one of those guys that if he don’t get the ball in the first two series in the first quarter, he’s out of it,” Porter said. “He had 18 catches in a game before. So he’s not used to going the whole first half with no balls. We got in his head and he pretty much was done.”
On second thought …
“I didn’t get inside his head, we just were talkin’. He got in his own head. He was done,” Porter said. “He’s one of those soft receivers, where he has to have the ball all the time. If he don’t get it, he’s going to mope and cry. He did it to himself.”
Marshall wasn’t around to defend himself by the time Porter called him out, but he did have plenty to say about himself and he spiced up his comments with criticisms of the Broncos (4-4), who lost for the fourth time in five games.
“When the quarterback sees 1-high or cover-1 (coverage), he’s got to be on the same page as me and get the ball to me,” Marshall said. “But it’s a team game, and oh, well.”
Asked about Denver’s inability to make Miami pay for stacking the line with eight men in the box—the Dolphins held the Broncos to 14 yards on 12 carries— Marshall took shots at both his offense and defense.
“I mean, when I look at it, it’s common sense. If I was a receiver going against our defense and they’re stacking the box and we’re playing a 1-high defense and eight in the box, and the DBs are 10 yards off of me, I’m going to catch 10, 12 balls a game,” Marshall fumed.
“I mean, I don’t even know that (Miami) receiver’s name who caught all those balls,” he said. “It’s simple. Tighten up the coverage and just play ball. It’s simple. It’s real simple. They don’t need to be 10 yards off. Tighten it up. You see they don’t do that against us. The reason why is because a receiver will kill them. I don’t even know the name of that receiver. Don’t know it.”
Marshall caught his first pass with less than a minute left in the third quarter, then hauled in a 77-yard toss from Jay Cutler on the next play, only to turn around and see the yellow flag taunting him.
“There was definitely some contact, but this type of game, this type of environment, you’ve got to let us play,” Marshall said. “It’s a physical game.
“I mean, the refs did a great job today.”
The score would have been tied at 16 with the pending point-after about to put Denver ahead for the first time. But side judge Allen Baynes ruled that Marshall pushed off cornerback Jason Allen just before hauling in the pass at midfield.
“Of course it was a good call,” Allen said with a grin. “I felt like I had a pretty good jam on him, from the line. When I turned around and looked for the ball, had a little push off there.”
Cutler was so infuriated by the call that he ripped the towel from his waist and tossed it in the direction of Baynes, who had his back turned to him, as the third quarter ended moments later.
Still smarting, Cutler threw his third interception on the first play of the fourth quarter, this one to safety Tyrone Culver, and the Dolphins capitalized on Dan Carpenter’s fourth field goal, a 41-yarder that made it 19-10.
Rookie fullback Peyton Hillis, who caught seven passes for 116 yards, made it 19-17 with a 1-yard TD catch from Cutler, but the Dolphins sealed it on Ronnie Brown’s 2-yard touchdown run in the waning minutes.
The Broncos lost leading tackler D.J. Williams to a torn MCL in his left knee, starting tailback Michael Pittman to a re-injured neck and safety Marlon McCree to a sprained ankle—and they’ve got a short turnaround, too, with a game at Cleveland coming up Thursday night.
Cutler tossed interceptions on two of his first four passes, with Will Allen returning the second one 32 yards for a touchdown that made it 13-0.
Rookie Eddie Royal’s 95-yard kickoff return set up his own 2-yard TD catch that made it 13-7.
The Dolphins scored 13 of their points off turnovers. In the last five games, the Broncos have allowed 60 points off turnovers while not scoring a single point off takeaways themselves. … Hillis is the third running back in Broncos history to gain 100 yards in a game through the air and the first since Floyd Little in 1974. … The only time the Broncos rushed for fewer yards was on Oct. 22, 1972, when they ran for just 13 at Oakland.